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Windows 10 looks to have built-in peer-to-peer OS and app updating support

Cheap Windows tablet
Cheap Windows tablet (Image credit: Windows Central)

The leak of Windows 10 build 10036 (the current version is build 9926) includes a settings option that allows you download app and OS updates from Microsoft as well as PCs on your local network and PCs on the internet. Yep, P2P OS and app updates.

There's no promising that these options will make it to a public release of Windows 10, but here's what they are:

  • Download apps and OS Updates from multiple sources to get them more quickly [off/on]

Which enables…

  • Download apps and OS updates from Microsoft and PCs on my local network
  • Download apps and OS updates from Microsoft, PCs on my local network, and PCs on the internet

It's an interesting option for Microsoft to provide, enabling distributed updates. It's something that could come in very handy when a large and anticipated update hits and it stresses Microsoft's servers and distribution network to the max. We've seen it happen before, and it'll happen again. But the ability to pull the update file in from multiple places — and to share that file with other users across the internet? That's smart thinking from Microsoft. Assuming, of course, that this actually makes it into a public release.

Source: Neowin

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

156 Comments
  • I can't imagine why it wouldn't make it to the public release and that's awesome! Updating will definitely seem.... :)
  • Oh you ;)
  • What I'd personally like is the ability to troubleshoot/update/customize a phone remotely.
  • You already can, using Project My Screen on the phone, the Project My Screen desktop app and the remote access app of your choice. I use TeamViewer and the combination works flawlessly.
  • Thanks! You mean this can be done on any phone? I'm not familiar with these tools. My use case: configure another phone through my phone remotely, for example.
  • Seem like a security nightmare just waiting for someone to hijack or spoof an update source.
  • My thought exactly. I could see sharing an update received directly from Microsoft with all your own computers on your own network. But pull from non-Microsoft over the internet? That just seems like asking for a sharknado event.
  • This... For update over local network, this way of updating can save bandwidth stress issue. But sharing update over internet? I don't think this is a good idea.
  • It might be, but in contrary of what you think - this might not be that easy to do as there are ways to verify each update package, which the Windows Update Center already does anyway, such as simple MD5 checksums. As for the feature itself - it's nice but I don't really see any benefit from it besides maybe for enterprises, where they have to enforce and internally destribute updates throughout large organizations. For the private users this won't really help as most of the users can obtain updates quickly enough through MS's own servers, which usually have a very big bandwidth already and are destributed nicely around the globe.
  • Step out of your home country just once and you'll never talk this way again.
    Assumption is the mother of all fuckups.
  • I don't get it - MD5 checksums doesn't work outside of my home country? :S
  • @efektos MS bandwidth may be fast enough for that occasional patch, but it starts to feel pretty slow when you have a lot of patches to download. A perfect example is when you get a new PC that hasn't been updated, or when you install windows for the first time. Enterprises already have windows update server, so this isn't so much for them. Small business will benefit from this too. Another example is anyone with a decent number of Windows PCs, and need to install a service pack on all of them.
  • Fair enough, but still I don't think it'll pose any serious security threat - it is possible for malicious attacker to exploit this P2P system, but I imagine it'll take much resources to do so (resources which only countries could allocate *cough* *cough*).
  • How resourceful would one have to be to exploit such a system? Who knows. How solid is MD5 checksum validation, or only allowing signed code. We know how the latter is circumvented, if this is included in a final build , it will only be a letter of time until we know how the former is circumvented
  • If they use the torrent model, it won't be an issue.
  • Basically µTorrent
  • Can't this also be
    A bit of a risk that some script kiddie might try to put some type of malware into the peer to peer.
  • Great
  • Faster... :p
  • ....seems :p
  • Wow... Love that!!
  • Great news for anybody with more than 1 PC in his house!
  • And anybody with an internet connection!
  • More specifically, a metered connection.
  • Also great news for anybody who can read..
  • And is out of the uterus
  • and anybody who is not lookin for WP builds and just into dekstop... not me ;)
  • When are all of these features going to Mac and Linux?
  • Soon™
  • Whenever Apple invents them!
  • I see what you did there. :-)
  • When they invent them
  • And instigate the lawsuits'
  • on linux you can set up a local repository on 1 pc and have all the others access that one, so you only need to download once.   Or you can be a true nerd and have a transparent proxy on the firewall that does all the work for you.
  • Microsoft has a similar update service too, but the point of this is to offer that functionality to the person that isn't technical enough to set that up.
  • It would also make it easier to compromise systems and distribute who knows what. I like the idea, but security concerns are enormous.
  • True, but that is why it is off by default. I would set it up for my home network only. I don't want updates from other people's PCs :) you never know!
  • Yeah, this is a great advantage for those who have multiple PCs networked in a house with a single, pay per GB metered connection. Happens more often than you think, like, in my house. Download updates on one, distribute to the rest... yeah... like it.
  • +925
  • Id like to think wu/mu since me/2000 has been much more secure then the previous os'es
  • Hopefully there are some advanced GPO options that allow you to enable some kind of certificate reqs as well as lock the IP... Stuff along those lines, but over all it does look like something that you get attention from hackers (aka our govt)
  • Isn't there file validation when using peer to peer. Since you are download bits and pieces from various computers, if one changes the file and you download pieces from it, it would pass the validation. I don't think there is much of a security risk here. The risk happens if you download the file from an unknown source and then install it, like what happens when you use torrents to pirate software.
  • And that would enable malware to spread quicky and smoothly I assume.
  • No it wouldnt. The packages are digitally signed.So the signature can be validated before running them.
  • Like the open SSL and other fun exploits..or the old protocols that needed to be disabled in browsers manually some months ago?
  • > implying MS wouldn't use only one proprietary protocol specifically designed for this task Besides, if you were (hypothetically) able to tamper with digitally signed packages from Windows Update, you would also be able to carry on some pretty sofisticated man in the middle attacks across the internet. This option is just plain convenience, and will never be too soon. (I believe OSX already has something like this, but I'm not sure)
  • I think you have no idea about how digital signatures work and you are just throwing around some news headlines.
  • You know nothing, This is just like .torrent files, if you make a torrent of a file and spread it, you will NEVER be able to alter the files distributed to swarm. Because changing the files will change the hash. Supposedly for example, if MS makes a torrent of the file and sends the torrent to a internal client, and uses p2p to download entire update, there is no way files are changed, it's just not possible that's how torrent (read p2p) works.
  • Sounds like torrent
  • Torrent is P2P, yes.
  • Torrents and P2P are technologies. They are actually used a lot for distribution of legal things, music, software, and movies. It is also used as backends of whole wealth of software. Nothing is wrong with using them.
  • Windorrent??
  • If well executed that'd be simply awesome
  • I would use the setting for Microsoft and local PCs only
  • Makes only sense when they are not checking licenses for the user..for example in a company network
  • Companies already have tool from microsoft to manage and deploy updates network-wide. This is basically meant for home users/prosumers
  • This actually sounds like a combination of WSUS and BranchCache. Good to see more features previously reserved for Windows Server making it to the consumer versions without the need for a server (or the knowledge of how to set such things up).
  • So a successor to wsus?
  • More like WSUS for our homes, IMHO
  • Yeah, this won't replace wsus. It's way too limited for the needs of an enterprise that wants complete control over which updates get pushed out when.
  • This is good for emerging markets. When there is no internet, this feature will very useful.
  • Indeed, great news for anybody with more than one windows device AND a non-unlimited internet connection
  • Or just limited? :P
  • I like non-unlimited. Sounds more sophisticated.
  • I want it to work for new app installations as well. That way, we would have our own secure equivalent of flashare
  • Seems faster
  • Sorry, I had to.
  • Seems update-y-er!
  • I want app update from phone to phone as well, as in large games been shared between two parties without downloading from the store.
  • Yeah! It's not fun to download and install updates to multiple machines if internet connection is slow and monthly patch tuesday updates are over 1 Gb size. Now only one machine has to do the actual downloading and others can get them from there via speedy gigabit lan. :) It's like having local WSUS server. Cool!
  • So does that mean we get Windows phone updates avoiding Carriers delays ?
  • Hmmm I wonder if something like this will be implemented to WP to avoid carriers
  • They would never allow it.
  •   Is it possible to be for windows 10 for phones ? becouse its simply seems good idea to have download all windows 10 for phones at the same time ?
  • Phones tipically have low storage, they wouldn't be an ideal target for something like this (which implies that one device has to store all the downloaded packages) Besides, phones receive 2-3 big updates in a year, not 12 patch tuesdays
  • In fact Micrsoft already have a technology used in Enterprise infrastructur that allow sharing files from other PCs in the same network, one PC can download files from a remote server and an other PC collect it from the first one. I dont see that its gona be an issue for Microsoft to implement that through their cloud services. The technology is called DirectAcces in Distribution Mode. by the end the updates and apps installers are just only files.
  • DirectAccess is a VPN solution for Enterprise. What you are describing sounds like Branch Cache which is probably what they are building into W10 for home use.
  • You are right....it is branch cache
  • Wen in Windows 10? :-P and definitely app updates downloads faster :-P
     
  • Fear of cyber hacking ??
  • seems faster ! 
  • I know they'll likely MD5 or whatever it, but I'm concerned about bad things getting stuck in these updates. I've seen PC's that looked like plague victims (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Pn1YrBTbA8 yeah, that bad). I don't want my PC getting updates from these, it'd be like sharing needles with strangers IMHO.
  • Maybe this idea would be good for windows phone too?
  • That sounds cool, but the security issues are pretty blatant. I hope they can figure out how to make sure computers cant spoof and push compromised builds or apps over a network.
  • It's the same mechanism used by Windows Update, only using your own PC as a cache.
  • Isn't this idea same with torrents?
  • Yes. Same technology.
  • Cool! Seems faster...
  • Such a tease to keep showing the old Win10 start menu with the recend documents arrows.. Bring them back!! http://forums.windowscentral.com/windows-10-technical-preview/337090-vot...
  • Will it help to get a chance to update your apps on the WiFi transfer......
  • I hope that us Verizon Windows smart phone owners truly do get our Windows updates faster from microsoft instead of verizon Network.it took foreever for us verizon customers to get the update to Windows 8.1. and by the by the way Whwn is verizon getting it's versions of the NEWMicrosoft brand Windows smart phones and will verizon give us a Real Flagship Windows smart phones like the Verizon ICON was. Damn Verizon should have dropped the Nokia lumia 928 and kept the Icon. the sales of the ICON would naturally go up because it would be the Only great Windows smart phone on their network. The Nokia lumia 822 and Nokia Lumia 928 will Very soon no longer be manufactured because Microsoft is rightly so from now on folks is ONLY making smart that are "MICROSOFT BRAND" smart phones. Microsoft know's Nokia will in 2016 be able to make smart phones again using The "Nokia" Brand name so Microsoft does not want "Brand name" confusion at all so will have ALL IT"S SMART PHONES BE "Microsoft Brand". so if you like any Nokia Lumia smart phones model you had better buy it now because they WONT BE for SALE anymore !
  • This would be a very interesting feature for companies, especially large ones :)
  • Initially it's a good idea but will consumer have control over how much bandwidth the uploading will need. People should understand that in underdeveloped and developing countries bandwidth is costly.....unless they implement full torrent like setting capabilities this feature will not make it to finals.
  • Forget about the internet stuff. Microsoft won't use your bandwidth without your permission. Just focus on local LAN usage to update apps if you have more than 1 Windows phone or even updating a friend's apps
  • This makes sense for enterprise. Companies often need to access installs remotely and often rely upon other connection software to accomplish this.
  • Enterprise already has this, it is called Windows Update Server and it allows admins granular control over how and when updates are deployed on a network. This is not a good idea to implement in the wild.
  • Windows.Torrent
  • Wow, talk about a security risk! That is just begging for someone to find a way to spoof an update which would then automatically distribute a virus across an entire network of machines. Updates can sometimes be slow, but it isn't that big of an issue unless you are on a work network... in which cause you have your own local update server to work from.
  • ever heard of MD5, SHA-1, SHA-256 and SHA-512 and digital signatures? it's obvious Microsoft would be smart to do something like that... checking files before updating anything. also this is turned off by default, so why do you need it turned on if you only have 1 device? Everything can be turned into a security risk once it goes into internet, but this feature doesn't mean peopel can share all the crap they want. or change files whatever they want... they would probably be redownloaded if they aren-t the same file.      
  • No he and millions others haven't and don't need to. Therefore, Microsoft should explain how updates process would work. E.g. The updater verifies the integrity of the update for from our servers. It'll only work when the update files are not tampered with.
  • What makes you think they wont? All the info anyone needs on the current update process is already out there. The fear is unfounded and coming from people that likely don't take the time to understand how things work, and then start making wild assumptions.
  • Surely this is going to be for companies who want to set of a update server. That, or it's a bittorrent like system. Whatever it is, I seriously doubt it means your pc will jut randomly trust bits from another pc on the LAN.
  • Surely you are incorrect. Read through the comments to find out why.
  • Seems very smart, though security should be a top priority. I can imagine the NSA smirking in a dark server room spreading their spyware-injected version of Minion Rush at even higher efficiency.
  • Does it mean I will have to use Tor to do Windows Update then? My school's WiFi completely blocks P2P connections!
  • The article used the word p2p to make it easier to understand. It doesn't mean that the update is torrent based.
  • Actually some good ideas coming out of these guys
  • I think this feature will more than likely be reserved for enterprise market SKUs and not consumer versions of Windows 10. On the consumer side of things, this is a huge security risk. On Enterprise, updates to systems are rolled out in a more controlled manner.
  • I am sorry, but you don't really understand security do you? And no,I can't think of an enterprise admin worth their salt that would use this, and it has nothing to do with security.
  • Why wouldn't an enterprise admin use this? It would boost deployment even more than traditional WSUS and/or proxy server use. At home I use WSUS with the option to have machines download patches from MSFT. This saves me the trouble of maintaining a cache of patches. On it's own this would just save me storage space and power. Machines only download the patches they need. I also use a proxy server which caches all those (actually needed) updates just fine. This means all my machines profit from local Gb network speed update downloading, if the proxy server can deliver those speeds. This however is still a 1-n distribution scenario (1-n is one to many). With this new P2P update technology my machines would get the same WSUS approved updates at n-m (many to many) speeds, far more likely to saturate Gb network connections if allowed, yes this could be a catch. This lightens the load on the proxy server (or WSUS) while utilising the mostly idling other machines capacity.       
  • Land lele sab
  • Security concerns aside, this is an amazing idea!
  • Windows 10 is so amazing so far and can't wait for next generation hardware to go with it! - Surface Pro 4 - Intel 5th generation - Lumia - Snapdragon 820 Let's don't forget about hardware AI called "Zeroth" with Cortana is a winning combination!
  • I immediately thought about something like utorrent
  • Great idea, however I got some security concerns. Exploit the package distribution somehow it will be way to infect distribute spyware or viruses.
  • First of all this isn't possible. Second of all, if it was, it wouldn't take p2p for that to happen.
  • Seems updated.
  • Being someone with multiple computers at home who hates having to download huge updates on each PC as it eats up my bandwidth like piranhas in a pool of blood, this is definitely one of the things I wished Windows had. I'm crossing my fingers this gets released in a public release! :D
  • This is great even some companies I have worked at haven't had a WSUS server to distribute updates they have just relied on Windows update which is bandwidth heavy when talking about lots of PC's. Hopefully there will be a default for enterprise of sharing within the domain, perhaps even getting rid of the WSUS server entirely and just having a simpler management of what updates to get on the domain controller.
  • Oh my it seems like many don't understand p2p. I think some should read or even research before assuming the worst.
  • No doubt. I smell an article from Windows central coming. ;)
  • This is brilliant for those with multiple PC's that would need the same update! Would save a lot of time and bandwidth not having to download the same thing multiple times.
    However, the option to download from "other PC's on the internet" is a bit sketchy. I think its being miss-interpreted though. By PC's on the internet it probably means only PC's that you know/own, that just aren't on your local network, not random ones.
  • True say vert well done MIC!!
  • That's a smart move MS!
  • This is a logical and welcomed idea.
  • I wouldn't trust it as Window 8.1 has a habit of shitting itself as it is so now you get shit updates from old people who cant into computers but its an interesting idea.
  • How exactly would one get a shit update from an old person?
  • They should do this for Windows Store Apps as well! Why should my one PC have to download the bits for each profile on my machine, and for every machine in my home network? This would be awesome.
  • They could so use this for Denim.
  • Wow, it would be amazing if Windows 10 had a BitTorrent Sync app/platform built into the OS!!
  • Just awesome .... Keep it up Microsoft...
  • Will this thing come to phone
  • what if that updates were interfered locally and embedded malicious code
  • Yep. ;)
  • They wouldn't get installed because the signature would change.
  • ^This
  • First setting I'd turn off.  Don't want to bog down my internet speeds by uploading stuff to other people across the country/world.  Also, with as many people using Windows, it would be a constant thing happening, and could catch some people by surprise if they had the wrong settings enabled on their computer and are tethering to a mobile device with a metered conenction but don't have it specified as such (there is no prompt to specify when you connect to thte hotspot, adn where you access those settings in Windows is not obvious).
  • There are ways to check for a metered connection without "it being specified as such".
  • The only thing I can think that will be bad for us is when a bad update is released that causes system instability. In the past, MS could just pull it from their servers but now they will somehow have to stop those PC that have the broken update from distributing update data.
  • No they wont. They just have to pull it from the master list of what updates are available.
  • Will windows10 for phones support OTG usb? plz tell me!! :)  
  • Brilliant idea. Good thinking MS!
  • Great thinking from Microsoft. So how are they planning to stop files being tampered with on other pcs. Furthermore, how this going to affect users who's ISP throttle p2p transfers.
  • Read about torrents. Tampered torrents files won't spread to others. In other words, don't worry. Microsoft's got your back Secondly, if you've got multiple PCs or WP, or have friends on the Windows platform, you instantly benefit. Set up a local network. Update a 1.5gb app on one device and share with the rest.
  • Would you make a hands-on video with a tablet? I think I am not the only one who is looking forward to it. Thank you.
  • Good.
  • Coooooooooooooooooooool!
  • I love the idea of sharing over the local network. I have like 6 computers now. I would like it if steam and others did the same thing.
  • Drop the updating from the Internet option. Someone is in Russia right now drooling over the possibility.
  • Am I the only one that sees this as a potential gateway to introduce a virus?
  • Wow, this feedback is awesome!!!
  • Welcome to 2009 Windows Central. This has been built into Windows since the introduction of Windows 7. It is known as Branchcache. In this case, it is probably just a new UI hook that enables the distributed cache mode. Server 2008 R2 supports a role for the hosted cache mode as well. It is also extensible with support for BITS traffic including Windows Update and SharePoint content.
  • For those concerned about security, here is a TechNet article. Nothing new here people. https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd637832(v=ws.10).aspx
  • Over the network would be a corporate end feature one would think. If your running a WSUS server (WIndows update services), I think this would be a addon to this. I could not see a use for this for a end user who has 1-2 PCs at home, maybe it will be locked down unless your on a domain.
  • Agreed... WSUS and BranchCache applied to OS *and* app updates. Needs same 1) security safeguards; 2) ability to designated source phone, tablet, PC, home server, *or* Xbox; 3) send invitations to target systems.
    .
    Great way for enthusiasts and prosumers to support family and friends - in-home on home network, *or* in different locations via internet.
    Likewise for professionals to support clients and SMB.
    .
    Kudos to Microsoft in extending an enterprise solution to SMB and consumer audience.
  • what a great option i hope it will be avaiable in the final version of windows 10 on any device!